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Tuesday 29 July 2014

This pigeon is just tickled pink with Bettystown

A pigeon with unusual plumage was spotted over Bettystown beach in Co Meath yesterday.

Published 28/06/2014|02:30

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Pink pigeon

Photographer Barry Cronin snapped the bird's distinctive coat as it glided through the sky.

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It is thought the bird – believed to be a domestic rather than a wild pigeon – had its coat dyed as part of some kind of publicity stunt.

Alternatively, its delicate colouring may have been altered by eating too much pink food. Regularly eating foods with high levels of beta carotene and canthaxanthin – harmless natural pigments – could change the colour of its feathers.

Pink flamingos, for example, get their colour from feeding on shrimp.

However, Niall Hatch from BirdWatch Ireland said he was convinced the pigeon's pink hue was a result of being dyed. "It's an ordinary, domestic-type pigeon; but it looks like a persistent dye was used, and it's probably waterproof to some degree.

"It could be paint, but for what purpose I don't know," he told the Irish Independent.

"One of the feathers in the wing is white compared to others. Obviously the pigeon"s overall coat was dyed by someone. It then lost one of its feathers, which was replaced by a normal white one."

There is an extremely rare species of pink pigeon, called nesoenas mayeri.

But it is native to Mauritius – thousands of miles away in the Indian Ocean and is the only Mascarene pigeon that has not become extinct.

Irish Independent

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